COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - This week we learned the cause of death for former South Carolina and NFL player Max Runager was a blood clot.
There are certain risk factors that can lead to a clot, like an injury which Runager did have. But, unfortunately, you usually have no idea you have a blood clot.
That was the case for a Lexington woman. Being able to be a mom to 8-week-old Jimmy is quite the blessing for Aliesha Smith. She almost did not have the chance. A few months ago, Aliesha had some odd symptoms. She was light-headed and dizzy.
But the 29-year-old thought it was just exhaustion. After all, she was, at that time, 6 months pregnant, a high school teacher and starting a LuLaRoe business from her home. But the symptoms got worse.
"My whole right side kind of, it didn't quit working, but it was delayed," Smith said. "It was like the connection from my brain to my right leg and right arm just wasn't working properly."
Doctors did an MRI on her brain and delivered the shocking news.
"He said I had had a stroke," Smith said. "It started with they thought I had vertigo and the MRI showed I had a stroke at the stem of my brain because there was a blood clot there."
Dr. Eric Weinstein, an emergency room physician at Lexington Medical Center, explains.
"There are 600,000 to 900,000 blood clots, pulmonary embolisms a year. And of those like 60,000 will die. And of those, 25 percent to 50 percent just present dead. Like you don't even know what's going on."
Because as Weinstein explains there really are not clear signs of a blood clot -- only vague ones.
"One part of your body is swollen or hurt, come in. If you're having chest pain or shortness of breath, come in. If your risk factors, cancer, lupus, you're taking oral contraceptives, you smoke, you recently had a baby, long travel, chest pains, shortness of breath, come in," Dr. Weinstein said.
Aliesha had no signs of her blood clot, only of the stroke caused by the blood clot. Knowing it occurred when pregnant affects future family plans.
"It just makes me really nervous to get pregnant again if that was the whole reason with why I had the stroke because with where it was if it had been a little to the right or the left I could have been paralyzed, I could have lost functions.," Smith said. "Could have been a lot worse."
Once at the doctor, there is a good blood test to see if you have a clot. Doctors also can do a CAT scan. To help prevent a blood clot, Weinstein suggests you move your legs often -- especially if you're sitting still for a long time on a plane, train or in a car. You also can wear compression socks.